John Fritze for USA Today:
Three men involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol are asking the Supreme Court to wipe out part of their indictment − and the possibility of an extra 20 years in prison − in the first criminal cases involving the 2021 insurrection to reach the nation’s highest court.
If the justices agree to hear the appeals, the decisions could ultimately affect part of a federal indictment lodged against former President Donald Trump for his effort to overturn the 2020 election − as well as hundreds of others charged in the deadly riot that unfolded across the street from the Supreme Court more than two years ago.
Edward Lang, Joseph Fischer and Garret Miller claim prosecutors overstepped their authority by charging them with a federal prohibition on obstructing “official proceedings,” a law approved in 2002 in response to the Enron financial meltdown. Lang documented on social media his participation in the Jan. 6 attack, and Miller gained attention after the riot for threatening Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y….
The Justice Department says that the counting of electoral votes − interrupted as lawmakers fled for their safety and police battled with rioters − qualifies as an “official proceeding.” The law, prosecutors say, would cover someone lying to a grand jury or “burning a building to conceal the bodies” of murder victims.
“It also includes storming the Capitol to derail a congressional proceeding,” the department told a federal appeals court last year.
But the defendants say the provision was meant to stop people – like those involved with the Enron scandal − from tampering with evidence. Fischer described the crime at issue in the cases as an “anti-shredding” law in a court document. Their actions on Jan. 6, the lawyers say, had nothing to do with that.